As soon as Autumn swings around I yearn for soothing, soul-warming Garam Masala Potato Gratin. This simple double potato concoction with cream and freshly-ground spices is a dish I crave often.
I welcome the combination of wholesome and floury Maris Piper potatoes and sweet potatoes. While both are delicious in their own right, something rather magical happens when you marry them together with cream and masalas.
Garam masala (Hindi: गरम मसाला) is a blend of warming spices, used heavily in Indian dishes, most often in North Indian recipes. Grab my Homemade Garam Masala recipe here.
The cooler climate calls and rich Mughlai and Central Asian influences on North Indian cuisine are particularly suited to the “garam” (warm) spices in garam masala.
Garam masala is a flavour protagonist for many regional Indian cuisines: Awadhi, Bihari, Punjabi, Rajasthani and Himachali to name just a few sub-cuisines of Northern India.
There is no one-size fits all answer. Almost every family will have their own preferences.
Most recipes for garam masala call for a varying blend of the following spices:
Coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, Indian bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon (or cassia), nutmeg, mace, peppercorns, black and green cardamom.
Some recipes call for dried chillies, while others do not.
There’s no denying the aromatic wave of flavour homemade garam masala brings. Add it to a curry, samosa filling or rice dish and it surpasses mediocrity and becomes a complete flavour bomb.
Having said this, I always keep a good blend of shop-bought Garam Masala in my cupboard for when I’m short of time and the homemade stuff.
I like both Jalpur Millers Garam Masala and BART Punjab Masala when it comes to the shop bought kind.
Any floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper or King Edward are good choices. I like the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes for this but the white ones work fine too.
The purple variety of sweet potato can give the creamy sauce an odd colour. It tastes fine, however.
You can prepare your potatoes by hand, simply using a sharp knife and chopping board. For even slices, use a mandoline (along with guard) to cut the potatoes into thin rounds.
Try to aim for a thickness of 1mm, but don’t worry if they are a bit thicker than this. The most important thing is that the potatoes are all uniform in size so they all cook at the same time.
Short of time? Chunk the potatoes up into wedges instead. Simple!
Not at all. I do however, recommend scrubbing the white potatoes and peeling the sweet potatoes with a vegetable peeler.
Totally. Prepare the potatoes as instructed in the recipe. To clarify, pile the partially cooked potatoes into a baking dish, along with the cream. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Top with cheese before you bake the gratin.
It’s possible to replace the cream in this recipe with any plant-based cream, such as oat cream or even coconut milk. Use a vegan cheese alternative to sprinkle on top.
Yes. This recipe is free from wheat/gluten.
Once baked, allow the gratin to stand for 20-25 minutes. I know it sounds like an impossible ask but this will allow the creamy sauce to thicken and meld with the starchy potatoes.
Serve this gratin with your favourite grilled or pan-fried protein. I love it with seitan, tempeh and tofu. Although I’ve been known to eat it all by itself too!
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